How to Make Karjalanpiirakka: A Traditional Finnish Karelian Pie

Karjalanpiirakka, or Karelian pies, are a beloved traditional Finnish delicacy known for their thin rye crust filled with a creamy rice porridge, and typically topped with a mixture of butter and chopped hard-boiled eggs. This delightful dish hails from the Karelia region, offering a comforting blend of flavors and textures. While the classic filling is made from rice, variations with carrot or potato are also popular. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making Karjalanpiirakka at home.

Ingredients

For the Rye Crust:

1 cup (240 ml) water
1 tsp salt
2 cups (240 g) rye flour


1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour

For the Rice Filling:

1 cup (200 g) short-grain rice
4 cups (1 liter) whole milk
1 cup (240 ml) water
1 tsp salt

For the Egg Butter:

4 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup (115 g) butter, softened
Salt to taste

Instructions

Making the Rice Filling:

    Cook the Rice: Rinse the rice under cold water. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice and cook for about 10 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
    Add the Milk: Gradually add the milk to the rice, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and the mixture is thickened to a porridge-like consistency. This should take about 30-40 minutes. Add salt to taste.
    Cool the Filling: Once the rice filling is done, set it aside to cool.

Preparing the Rye Crust:

    Mix the Dough: In a large bowl, combine the water and salt. Gradually add the rye flour and all-purpose flour, mixing until a firm dough forms.
    Knead the Dough: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 15 minutes.
    Shape the Dough: Divide the dough into small balls, about the size of a walnut. On a well-floured surface, roll each ball into a thin oval shape, approximately 6 inches long and 4 inches wide.

Assembling the Karjalanpiirakka:

    Fill the Crust: Place a spoonful of the cooled rice filling onto the center of each oval-shaped dough. Spread the filling, leaving a border around the edges.
    Crimp the Edges: Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, pinching and crimping to create a decorative edge. The center should remain exposed, showcasing the rice filling.
    Bake the Pies: Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Place the pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the edges are crispy and slightly browned.

Making the Egg Butter:

    Prepare the Eggs: Peel the hard-boiled eggs and chop them finely.
    Mix with Butter: In a bowl, combine the chopped eggs with the softened butter. Mix well and add salt to taste.

Serving the Karjalanpiirakka:

Apply the Egg Butter: Once the pies are baked, spread a generous amount of egg butter on top of the warm pies. This rich and savory topping enhances the flavor of the Karjalanpiirakka.

Variations:

Carrot Filling: Replace the rice with grated carrots cooked until soft, then mix with a bit of cream to create a smooth filling.
Potato Filling: Boil and mash potatoes, then mix with butter and a splash of milk for a creamy texture.

Karjalanpiirakka are best enjoyed fresh from the oven, but they can also be reheated. These traditional Finnish pies make for a perfect snack or a hearty addition to any meal. Enjoy making and savoring this delightful Finnish treat!